Repression of Individual Expression and Subordination of Women in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “the Yellow Wallpaper”

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  • Topic: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, Silas Weir Mitchell
  • Pages : 3 (946 words )
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  • Published : March 9, 2013
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Repression of Individual Expression and Subordination of Women in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”
In her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman makes many enduring statements about feminism and individuality. Gilman’s story is told solely through the journal entries of the female protagonist, in which she subconsciously illustrates the horrific details of her post partum depression and eventual madness. The women’s progression madness is characterized by her encounters with the wallpaper in the room to which she is confined during her treatment. It is important to understand that although the plot is primarily based around her mental condition and obsession with the wallpaper, the story seeks to deliver a completely unrelated message. Gilman seeks instead to relay the condition of all females who long for individual expression in purely male dominated societies. By looking at gender inequality and repression of female individuality as reflected in the narrative structure and symbolism in Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” one can see the deterioration of self, both mentally and physically, that ensues from the subordination and intellectual limitation of women. This is important because all individuals, regardless of their gender, deserve freedom of self-expression order to derive ones own sense of self worth.

The narrator’s insanity is a product of the repression of her imaginative power, not the expression of it. She is forced to hide her anxieties and is forbidden from exercising her mind in any way, in order to preserve the façade of a happy marriage. As an emotional and intellectual outlet, she keep’s a secret journal, through which the story is told. With this journal style narrative, Gilman captures the narrator’s descent into madness both subjectively and objectively. The narrative focus of “The Yellow Wallpaper” moves relentlessly inward, detailing the narrator’s gradual absorption into...
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